Southern California Edison contracts mammoth 770mw energy storage portfolio to replace California gas plants

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media


Investor-owned utility Southern California Edison (SCE)  has signed multiple grid battery contracts totaling in 770 megawatts of storage.

  • SCE aims to have these seven projects live by August 2021, making it the fastest turnaround for a project of this size
  • These batteries will be stationed at existing solar farms, creating renewable energy for the grid and providing new energy sources as the state shutters multiple coal fire gas plants
  • These project sites are spread out through the lower half of the state, with some located in Riverside County and the Central Valley
  • In order to secure the proper financing, the California Energy Storage Association and storage companies are asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to expedite the process for reviewing and approving the projects
  • Large scale batteries will be the new norm as California aims to have 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free resources by 2045

The Climate Center’s clean and smart community microgrid initiative for a Climate-Safe California will help ensure that all cities and counties have the funding and technical support to conduct collaborative, participatory planning processes going forward.

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History’s largest mining operation is about to begin underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable

by Wil S. Hylton

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes…

His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

Low-cost batteries are about to transform multiple industries

by Rob Day, Forbes

Lithium-ion battery prices have seen a dramatic decline in manufacturing costs over the past decade. The below chart from a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released today shows the steady march downward in prices.

In fact, the chart may be understating things a bit. BNEF forecasts that the industry will see $100/kWh by 2023. However, one industry insider told me recently that he’s already seeing costs near that point. If so, that price level may prove to be an inflection point for several major industries.

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Tesla has ‘about 11,000’ energy storage projects underway in Puerto Rico, says Elon Musk

by Fred Lambert, Electrek

Tesla is apparently significantly ramping up its effort to help rebuild the power grid in Puerto Rico after it was destroyed by hurricanes last year.

After having completed hundreds of energy storage project on the islands in the last few months, Tesla CEO Elon Musk now says that they have ‘about 11,000’ energy storage projects underway in Puerto Rico, which means something big is in the work.

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the company installed batteries at 662 locations in Puerto Rico.

We reported that they focused on critical services. For example, Tesla deployed a series of Powerpack systems on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra for a sanitary sewer treatment plant, the Arcadia water pumping station, the Ciudad Dorada elderly community, the Susan Centeno hospital, and the Boys and Girls Club of Vieques.

The automaker’s energy division also deployed a solar+battery system at a hospital in Puerto Rico.

While it’s one of the biggest examples of Tesla deploying energy storage systems in a single market, it now sounds like it’s only the beginning as Musk says that there are about 20 times more projects underway in Puerto Rico:

At the very minimum, it would be one Powerwall per project, which would add up to a deployment of at least ~150 MWh of energy capacity.

But that’s just the bare minimum since as we have recently seen, most projects include more than one Powerwall.

For example, we recently reported on a homeowner in Puerto Rico who received a 3-Powerwall installation that helped keep the lights on during the last power outage:

It was also recently reported that the Puerto Rican government was considering Tesla’s plan for a series of microgrids throughout the market in order to help bring back power on a larger scale.

Those ~11,000 projects could also potentially be part of that larger scale project. We asked Tesla for a comment and we will report back if we get an answer.

Electrek’s Take

To me, that smells like a massive virtual power plant made out of Powerwalls at homes all around Puerto Rico.

Tesla appears to have been focusing on this strategy of having decentralized energy storage systems at the end users, which secure power for them, but also using some of that energy storage capacity for grid services, which can result in a more stable grid.

Puerto Rico can use both right now.

Other recent examples of virtual power plants by Tesla include the massive 50,000-Powerwall virtual power plant project in South Australia, but also several others like a smaller in Lebanon and another one in Australia.

All those projects are starting to add up and as I have been saying for a while now, it looks like Tesla’s energy division is going to have to work on a significant production increase in order to start working through that backlog in a reasonable time.

Otherwise, it’s nice for Tesla to have 11,000 projects underway in Puerto Rico, but the big question is how soon will that mean 11,000 projects deployed in Puerto Rico?


Wind Turbine

Gas plant makers embrace batteries with hybrid machines

by Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

New offerings from turbine manufacturers are blurring the line in the debate about whether or not an energy storage facility can replace gas-fired peaking plants.
Earlier this month, Wartsila signed a memorandum of understanding with Southern Co. to develop two flexible gas-fired power projects. The MOU coincides with Wartsila’s acquisition of Greensmith Energy Management Systems. Wartsila said the acquisition would enable it to provide both stand-alone energy storage systems, as well as hybridized energy systems that combine conventional generators with energy storage.

Also in July, Scottish power generator Aggreko agreed to acquireYounicos, the German-U.S. developer of battery technology and energy storage solutions in a $52 million deal.
Last year Caterpillar, a manufacturer also known for its diesel generators, began offering storage, along with PV solar panels, with its generators. Cummins, another diesel engine manufacturer, also is packaging its reciprocating engines with built-in energy storage.
And in April General Electric completed what it says is the world’s first hybrid battery-gas turbine system, at a site in Norwalk, Calif., for Southern California Edison. The system combines two 50 MW LM6000 gas turbines with a 10 MW, 4.3 MWh battery storage system.

GE now has four of units in operation in pollution non-attainment zones in California, and has several more installations “in the works,” Eric Gebhardt, vice president of systems and innovations at GE, said.

“The grid is demanding flexibility,” said Adam Forni, a senior research analyst with Navigant Research. He identified two key value propositions for combining generation and storage.

Storage can respond to wholesale market signals more quickly than generation, and adding storage to a generating plant allows the provider to “right size the generating equipment.”
For manufacturers, adding storage allows them to capture part of the market they might lose otherwise, said Forni. That has been particularly true in the market for reciprocating machines such as diesel generators that has been experiencing disruption.

“They are trying to preserve their margins,” Forni said, noting that the reciprocating generation market is a $20 billion industry.

For GE, the hybrid turbine is the next iteration of a shift the company has made to adapt to a market in which there is a greater need for flexible generation that can quickly adapt to a higher level of intermittent renewable resources on the grid.

The first iteration was a shift to fast-ramping generators, a building block in making the future of the hybrid turbine-storage machine.

In California, GE retrofitted an LM6000 to be a fast-ramping machine able to come online in five minutes as opposed to 10. As the plant ramps up, the battery can provide instantaneous grid services until the turbines come online.

It’s only five minutes difference, but Gebhardt said a 10-minute ramp rate of older gas plants would have required a battery twice the size of the 4.3 MWh battery that GE uses in the hybrid machine. That would have changed the cost of the battery and the economics of the hybrid system.

It would seem to be a tough sell to spend money to upgrade or retrofit a system that is already operating and providing good service. But, as Gebhardt points out, adding storage to a gas turbine can provide addition revenue streams for owners.

GE has designed the storage system so that it looks like the turbine is running at full speed even when it is running on the batteries. That enables the owner to offer spinning reserves into the market at a lower cost because not as much fuel is consumed.

The addition of a storage system also allows the owner to add on other revenues streams – depending on the rules of the particular market – such as voltage support, frequency regulation and black start capability.

Gebhardt says GE demonstrated the black start capability of the system in May at a system installed for the Imperial Irrigation District in California.

The hybrid system also improves response time because the battery can respond to grid needs instantaneously and provide power until the turbine reaches full speed.

Without the market mechanisms to compensate for providing those service, however, there is little incentive for the products. So for its hybrid generators – what it calls its EGT turbines – GE is looking at markets where renewable energy penetration is high or is expected to grow, where spinning reserves are costly but capacity is still needed, and markets that buy fast frequency regulation. Right now those markets a mostly in coastal states in the U.S. and in Western Europe, Australia and Japan.

GE’s California installations were a service upgrade, but the company is also looking at including an option for battery storage with all its new plants.
Gebhardt says GE is beginning to investigate combining storage capability on plants that run more frequently, such as mid-merit machines that fall between peakers and baseload plants on the dispatch curve. But, he adds, the process is not as simple as bolting a battery on to a turbine.

In addition to control systems for the battery and between the battery and the turbine, the turbine itself has to be modified, Gebhardt said. Almost any turbine can be paired with storage, but in the end the decision comes down to economics.

The goal, Gebhardt said, is to make the grid more productive. And as battery costs continue to decline, it will make economic sense to deploy customizable battery systems in a variety of capacities in a wider array of plants. “Storage is the next arrow in the quiver,” he said.



Tesla powerpack to enable large scale sustainable energy to south Australia

by The Tesla Team, Tesla

Last September, a 50-year storm damaged critical infrastructure in the state of South Australia, causing a state-wide blackout and leaving 1.7 million residents without electricity. Further blackouts occurred in the heat of the Australian summer in early 2017. In response, the South Australian Government as a leader in renewable energy, looked for a sustainable solution to ensure energy security for all residents, now and into the future, calling for expressions of interest to deploy grid-scale energy storage options with at least 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

This week, through a competitive bidding process, Tesla was selected to provide a 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system to be paired with global renewable energy provider Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia. Tesla was awarded the entire energy storage system component of the project.

Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure. The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid.

Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of homes that lost power during the blackout period.

Working in close collaboration with the South Australian Government and Neoen, this grid scale energy storage project is not only sustainable, but will help solve power shortages, reduce intermittencies, and manage summertime peak load to improve the reliability of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure.

In addition, Tesla’s Powerwall is now being installed for residential customers across Australia and ramping up quickly. The same technology that can help stabilize the South Australian grid can also be used by homeowners to collect energy during the day so it is stored and made available day and night, providing uninterrupted power even if the grid goes down.

Tesla is proud to be part of South Australia’s renewable energy future, and we expect this project will provide a model for future deployments around the world that will help significantly accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy.